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. Russian leader says environment problems a security threat

by Staff Writers
Moscow (AFP) June 21, 2008
Russia's environmental problems are a threat to national security and could make parts of the country uninhabitable within 30 years, President Dmitry Medvedev said on Saturday.

On a televised visit to Saint Petersburg, the Russian leader said that after post-Soviet hardship in the 1990s it was time to turn to environmental questions.

"Our country is in a threatened state. If we don't deal with this, then in 10, 20, 30 years we could be in a situation where part of the country's territory is unfit for habitation," Medvedev told students at the law faculty where he once studied.

"Ecology is a question of national security," he said.

Medvedev did not specify the environmental problems he had in mind but noted the vast fresh water reserves Russia has in its frozen north and in its prized Lake Baikal.

Since taking office last month he has placed a new emphasis on the environment, ordering measures to reduce by 40 percent the amount of energy Russia uses per unit of gross domestic product by 2020.

Scientists say the environmental problems faced by Russia range from nuclear weapons waste to the melting of Siberian permafrost due to global warming.

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Vote voided after Berlusconi ally rejects Naples waste proposal
Rome (AFP) June 19, 2008
A right-wing party allied with Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi voted Thursday against a government decree to ease a garbage crisis in Naples but the vote was later annulled due to a technicality.

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